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Luck Be a Lady at the 2006 WSOP...By the Name of Clonie Gowen
It was probably inevitable when she moved to Dallas, Texas, Hold'em capital of the world, that Clonie Gowen would fall in love with poker. Clonie got her start by traveling to Shreveport, La., on weekends where she made decent money playing, and since then she hasn't looked back. Gowen's success as a poker player has been punctuated by several notable events. She finished in the top ten at the World Poker Tour Costa Rica Classic which garnered her an invitation to the World Poker Tour Ladies' Night 2003. Going up against top players like Annie Duke and Jennifer Harman, Gowen came out on top to win the event.
Debunking dumb blonde stereotypes on every level, Gowen shares her exceptional knowledge of poker by writing a regular poker column as well as sitting on the board of directors for the United States Poker Association and teaching amateurs at a poker school how to improve their game. PokerListings.com caught up with the lovely Gowen at her launch party for her cover feature in Maxim magazine "World Series Special Edition" issue.
How does it feel to be on the cover of Maxim's World Series issue?
It's absolutely an incredible honor. I've done lots of photo shoots, and to actually do a photo shoot with a company that does photo shoots is really incredible. It was very professionally done, and I felt like a model. It was fun. I felt really good and confident and pretty. Plus it helped that I had four drinks prior. There were certain things that I would not do, and they honored my wishes. The pictures were tastefully done so I thank them very much.
How did you get into playing poker?
My friend Tony and I played Dungeons & Dragons when we were kids, and I was into it. And his parents played poker on the weekends, so every Friday and Saturday night Tony and I and his parents would play poker. I didn't learn how to play in those games, but I did develop a passion for wanting to play, and that brought me to where I am now.
How did it feel to win the World Poker Tour Ladies Night in 2003?
It felt very good. I was playing with the best female players in the world. I got lucky. It was my night. That's it. Whenever you play with Annie Duke, Kathy Liebert, Jen Harman, I'm telling you right now, those are not easy spots. There's definitely an element of luck, and that's what brings everybody into the game. And I've paid my dues - I've played a lot. I've been playing since I was fifteen, and that night I got lucky.
Do you think there is a difference between male and female poker players (besides anatomy)?
Not really at the highest level necessarily. Jennifer Harman plays every day in the highest level you can possibly play. I guess the difference would be that women think more about the future as opposed to most of the guys in the game. Most guys don't have children and things of that nature, whereas women are a bit more nurturing, so they do think more about the future. So if you're a woman and this is your last $10,000, you're not necessarily going to enter a $10,000 event. Women just think about that a bit more, but that doesn't mean they're not smart enough.
What's it like being a woman in the dominant "boys club" that is the poker world?
You never get the credit that you deserve, but that's actually good for you. Because whenever you're at a table and you have more knowledge than somebody else, and I'm not just talking about poker, in any business, then your opponent underestimates your abilities and you have the advantage. And guys are seeing that. Women can play at the highest level. I'm not saying that women are greater players, I'm saying they're as great as the men.
What advice would you give women who are aspiring to be professional poker players?
Have a supportive family, because we have children and our children always come first and should. No woman is going to choose poker over family, so if you don't have that support, then you cannot be successful. And make sure you've got everything going on, read all that you can read, do all that you can and just know the game. Know that if you're passionate about poker, it will happen.
What are your aspirations for this year's World Series of Poker?
I tell you what, I want to win a bracelet. That's, hands down, what I want to do. But I'll be happy with myself if I make it to a final table. Now that doesn't mean if I take ninth place, I won't walk away and beat my head against the wall, I'm just saying that eventually I will be okay with the fact that I took ninth. But bottom line, I want to win a bracelet. I feel that I can.
Will you be entering the H.O.R.S.E. event?
Yes. If there was any event that I could win this year, the H.O.R.S.E. event would be the one I'd love to win. Even more than the Main Event.
What's your best game in the H.O.R.S.E. event?
I've played all the games, and I don't want to say which games are my weakest, but I do have weakness in the H.O.R.S.E. game. But I'm studying a lot, really trying to focus on my game. But I will tell you this, I do think that there are some strong female players, besides myself, who will do extremely well in the H.O.R.S.E. event.
How will you celebrate if you win a bracelet this year?
I'm going to Tahiti for a month. F@!$ it all. I'm kidding. I just want to go relax and not think about poker and veg out on a beach. I'm a scuba diver so I want to go diving too.
Good Luck, Clonie!